Mobile phone users seem to be resisting Botswana Telecommunications Authority, BTA’s call to register simcards despite the looming December 31 deadline.
BTA, as a telecommunications regulator, is registering all pre-paid mobile phone users (simcards) as an international standard practice, but many cell phone users are suspicious of the move.
BTA’s Public Relations Officer, Twoba Koontse, revealed to Sunday Standard this week that up to now only 267,113 pre-paid cell phone subscribers had registered with them.
This represents 13 percent of over 2.2 million cellphone owners in the country although only three months are left before the curtain falls.
There are three mobile phone service providers in the country, namely Mascom, Orange and be Mobile.
Koontse revealed that the numbers make him an unhappy person as this does not even reach a quarter of those who are expected to have registered.
“I am obviously not happy as the numbers of those who have registered now are by far below what we have expected to have registered by now,” he said.
He encouraged all service providers to go out and teach their customers about the importance of registering their cell phones.
He said the mobile phone companies could achieve this through road shows to spread the message adding that some service providers such as Mascom already have gone around the southern end of the country spreading the message on the importance of registering their cell phones.
Besides the service providers, he said that they are also spreading the message by holding their own road shows as well as running advertisements in both print and electronic media on the same subject of registering cell phones.
“We are also doing our part by running adverts in the media and holding road shows around the country,” he said.
He added that it was up to service providers to see how they can make customers register, praising be Mobile that has gone into a contract with BotswanaPost.
Under the deal, be Mobile will use post offices around the country to register, a move which he said was commendable as post offices have a wider network than any other means of communications.
Koontse warned the pre-paid mobile phone users that BTA maintains its stand to cut from service all those who will not have registered with them by 31 December, 2009.
“Our deadline stands. All those who will not have registered on 31 December will be cut off,” he promised.
Koontse is concerned that most mobile phone users will wait until the last minute and fears that this will result in a stampede.
He advised that pre-paid users should register in order for the country to comply with International Telecommunications Federations laws.
Equally, registering will make tracking a lost mobile phone easier to trace.